In a recent live video on Instagram, renowned Music Producer and artist DJ Maphorisa ignited a debate within the music industry by expressing a viewpoint that stirred both support and backlash. The controversial statement revolved around the ownership of music masters and the financial dynamics between artists and major labels.
Maphorisa’s straightforward perspective echoed a sentiment that resonates with the underlying business model of the music industry. He emphasized, “I buy the food, I buy the water, it’s my computer and my electricity. So why must you own things you didn’t come with?” This raises a crucial question: Should artists expect to own their masters outright, considering the substantial financial investments made by labels in their projects?
One key aspect that DJ Maphorisa’s statement highlights is the role of major labels in funding various elements of music production. From booking studios to covering costs related to artist development (AR), production, engineering, and miscellaneous expenses, labels often act as financial backers, investing significantly in an artist’s career. However, these investments come with a caveat – labels aim to recoup their expenditures before relinquishing full ownership of an artist’s masters.
On a global scale, this business practice is not unique to any particular region but rather a standard industry approach. Major music labels operate with a business mindset, treating the funding of artists’ projects as a business investment with the expectation of a return. This model has been witnessed across various genres, but it’s particularly evident in the world of hip-hop.
Consider the journey of iconic figures like Jay Z who had to fight to get their masters after signing early in their careers. Jay Z’s story for instance underscores the industry norm where artists, despite their talent and creativity, must navigate through the label’s system and work towards recouping costs before gaining full ownership of their masters. This exemplifies the pragmatic reality that artists, even with a significant impact on the industry, often must adhere to the established norms of the business.
While DJ Maphorisa’s words might seem too blunt and maybe too honest for bringing the conversation to the most basic level which is buying food during sessions, they bring attention to a critical aspect of the music industry – the need for artists to understand and navigate the financial intricacies involved in their collaborations with major labels. As minute as food might seem, it’s still a cost ! His call for artists to invest in their own studios, plugins, and equipment aligns with the idea of taking control of their creative and financial destinies.
DJ Maphorisa’s controversial statement sparks a vital conversation about the business side of music ownership. By shedding light on the financial dynamics between artists and major labels, he prompts artists to consider the broader picture and strategically position themselves within the industry. While the debate continues, one thing remains clear – mastering the business of music ownership is an essential aspect for artists striving to navigate the complexities of the music industry successfully.